go of a little wedding-day control can be scary, but its
well worth it
your wedding day. Youre getting dressed in the most
expensive thing youll ever wear, letting your best friend
remind you to take deep breaths, getting contemplative about
the meaning of commitment. Your mind is overflowing with .
. . the fact that the flowers are late. Whether cousin Frank
is late enough that the ceremony should start without him.
The fact that guests are parking on the retreat centers
all well and good to be your own wedding planner. It can even
be fun. But if weddings are part theater, then the wedding
couple should be the directors, not the stage managers. Sadly,
all too often this is not the case. One groom describes an
ugly interlude in the middle of his reception involving
an angry caterer demanding payment. I know a bride who wrapped
up her reception by lugging the churchs sound system
back to its storage closet, and a couple who ended up with
their wine entirely unopened because they forgot to delegate
someone to start the toasting.
can have a wedding day where your main job is to enjoy yourself,
but you have to remember to put delegating on your list of
tasks to do beforehand. My mantra in the weeks leading up
to my wedding was I will not touch a clipboard on my
wedding day. Replace touch a clipboard with
whatever would make you feel particularly not in the spirit
and repeat as necessary when delegating feels like more work
than its worth.
make a list of who might be willing to lend a hand. Resolve
not to feel bad about asking people to do things. Many people
enjoy a chance to help out at a wedding, especially if it
doesnt mean having to buy an expensive dress theyll
never wear again.
make a list of what needs doing. How will guests know where
to park? Who will direct them to their seats? Who will give
the musicians the cue that people are ready to process? Who
will pick up the wine? Pay the caterer? Decide when dinner
is served? Make your list comprehensive and detailed, and
then group related tasks that would make sense to give one
now consider adding one more role to your list. At the rehearsal
for my sister-in-laws wedding, the minister solemnly
introduced my sister-in-laws housemate to the assembled
company as the dictator. Her word was final, he
explained. No one walked until she said walk. She was responsible
for knowing when everyone was ready, and all sorts of other
things we neednt bother our heads with. If we had a
question, we went to her.
followed my sister-in-laws wonderful example and enlisted
a dictator of our own. People with more specific rolessetting
up the altar, laying out the wedding certificate for people
to signreported to him. He handled all the things we
hadnt thought of. He coordinated between the attendants
and the band and the officiate, and gave the word for the
procession to start, figured out at the last minute how to
conceal the broom we would later jump over, and other things
I never even heard about. I think.
word to the wise: Dont pick your mother, or your mother-in-law,
for dictator. Tell them that they have a very special role
as family, and they shouldnt be distracted from it.
Do pick someone who is organized, and who exhibits grace under
pressure. Someone who knows a lot of the people who will be
there also helps.
match up people and tasks, and ask. If youve got a lot
of faith in the universe, you may be able to get away with
last-minute delegating. I handed some poles, a lace
tablecloth, and I think some string to [four friends and family
members] and said Here, make a chuppah, and when
we got back from taking pre-ceremony photos, there was in
fact a chuppah! recounts a friend. College friends of
mine assigned major parts of the ceremonylike the invocation
and prompting vowsthe night before to the guests who
were staying over. (My partner got up at 6 AM to write the
invocation. It came out wonderfully, but it wasnt what
shed been expecting to do that morning.)
is better than nothing, but in most cases, youll want
to give people some notice, especially if theyll need
to show up early or have a change of shoes for the muddy parking
make your helpers do your planning for you. As much as possible,
give them written lists of exactly what you wantwhich
people the ceremony cant start without, what to say
when you enter the receptionand anything else they need
(lists of who is staying in what room, checks for vendors).
Helpful and resourceful friends made a huge difference,
says one bride. But weve been told by some of
those friends after they helped out at other weddings that
the fact that we had most of the details taken care of meant
they could both be helpful and relax and enjoy the day.
extra copies tooI briefly broke my own not-touching-a-
clipboard rule when I had to scribble out the reception order
for the MC who had left his cheat sheet at home.
the end, though, if you really want to avoid logistics on
the big day, you cant just delegate, you have to empower.
You cant foresee everything. We delegated the
picking up of the wedding cake from the bakery, says
Emma, who was married in May 2000. The person who got the
cake then jumped in and went out to a bodega for bags
of ice to put around it until cutting time, what with the
unexpected 95-degree weather. Emma and her partner had
also rented a church garden for their wedding, and discovered
upon arrival that the chairs they needed were locked in the
church basementwhich could only be reached through the
sanctuary, in which a service was in full swing. To this day
they dont know how their guests managed to get the chairs
your helpers under what circumstances they should come to
you for guidancefor example, anything that would up
your cost by more than a certain amount, or whether to move
to the rain site if the weather looks threatening. And then
tell them not to come to you for anything else.
is the scary partletting go a little of the control.
At my wedding, Im pretty sure that the altar centerpiece
ended up on the gift table and the flower girls bouquet
ended up in a vase on the altar. But you know what? The flower
girl had a bag of rose petals to throw and didnt really
need a bouquet too, and the centerpiece turned out to have
been way too big for the altar. It came out fine, without
when I stepped out to the first phrases of the processional,
my mind was on getting married. And nothing else.
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